Guide Deeper: Living in the Reality of Gods Love

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We must have the courage to obey the Scriptures in these ways even if it does not match our prior experience. As with anything else, there is much to learn and there will be many growing pains, but by actively cultivating the art of hearing God you will be able to know His will and able to seek Him much more specifically and wholeheartedly. Luke tells us that there is extraordinary joy in heaven when sinners repent and turn to God Luke Why will you die, O house of Israel? Repent and live! There is an extraordinary story of King Ahab who was an exceedingly wicked king of Israel.

Do you ever ask, “Does God love me?” or “Does God love us?”

He murdered in cold blood and rebelled against God repeatedly. God sent Elijah to pronounce judgment on him, warning him of the impending disaster. Yet, Ahab humbled himself and repented of his sins, moving God to relent in sending punishment. Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son. Rend your heart and not your garments.

Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. The flip side to repentance is obedience, and authentic repentance always leads to obedience. Repentance is looking to the past concerning sins and acknowledging what needs to be brought before God. Obedience is daily walking in holiness and surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord. God delights and draws close to those who live righteous lives. Every culture has characteristics that reinforce and commend the eternal commands of God and yet also has values that are contrary to the will of God, which need to be brought into alignment with Him.

American culture in the 21 st century has much going for it, including a strong value on racial tolerance, faithful stewardship of the environment, and caring for the poor. Faithfully walking with God even when this brings one in conflict with the surrounding culture exemplifies a righteous and holy life, and God loves the righteous and draws close to them.

In the category of sexual integrity, American culture has strayed far away from the Biblical norms it once embraced. Fornication, pornography, homosexuality, adultery, and divorce are all common in Christian as well as non-Christian culture in the United States, greatly grieving the heart of God. Much of this sexual immorality results in abortion, which has claimed tens of millions of lives in the last 50 years amounting to a holocaust much worse than the holocaust of World War II and even worse than the era of slavery in the United States.

God forgives when there is genuine repentance, and America and American Christians have much to repent over in this area. Another American cultural norm that grieves the heart of God is materialism and greed.


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How has our thinking been so altered that we are so wealthy yet so stingy at the same time? Every Christian must break free from this demonic stronghold and learn to live generously. Seeking God is a way of life and not something solely to be done in times of desperate need. American society thinks nothing of pursuing education ten hours a day in classroom and homework time for many years, and American society thinks nothing of pursuing athletic excellence through many hours of practice every day year after year.

The same diligence we show toward these other worthy causes should be shown in our single-minded pursuit of pleasing and following the one true God. It is extraordinary to notice the hard work and diligence that some apply to various aspects of their lives, be it education, athletics or a hobby. In season and out of season, many Christians faithfully and diligently work hard to be better educated or skilled in athletics or a musical instrument. Those who do not perform well on their tests know that often the reason is that they have not studied.

Yet, many Christians have little victory and power in their lives and they honestly have no idea why. They have not been praying and reading the Scriptures diligently, fasting, humbling themselves, repenting of their sins, and practicing consistent obedience to God. God is displeased with them and perhaps even opposing them, and yet they are completely ignorant of it. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. It is this perspective that must be the mindset of every person who seeks after God diligently. We must hunt after God, never being satisfied with anything less than His divine blessing and presence in our lives.

Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the most respected theologian on the subject of revival, wrote that the best Biblical passage on the topic is Zechariah , which states:. I myself am going. Notice the zeal of those seeking after the Lord. It was not enough that they themselves were seeking after God, but they were compelled to encourage others to seek God as well. Not only is the gathering of others important in seeking God, but gathering with others is critical.

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It is important that Christians gather with others on a weekly if not daily basis to encourage each other in the faith to remain strong in the Lord and to minister to each other, building up the body of Christ. Christians should be regular participants in churches, small groups, and other large and small group gatherings to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Moreover, it is important that Christians follow the Biblical example of gathering for several multi-day Christian conferences per year in order to deepen their love and devotion to God.

During these times, there was celebration, public reading of the Bible, teaching, praise and worship, and confession of sin see Exodus ; Nehemiah 8; and 2 Chronicles All families as part of the nation of Israel were required to keep these three annual feasts so that they would be strengthened in their love for God, ready and able to serve Him and walk with Him all year long. Of course, no one knew I was feeling this way about life -- on the outside I didn't show it. Even when things seem to go right, life can still present a foxhole -- an internal one that's invisible to the naked eye but felt in the heart.

Becky described that phenomenon this way: "How many times have you thought that if you just had that piece of clothing, or that boyfriend, or got to visit some place, that then your life would be happy and complete? And how many times have you purchased that shirt, or dated that guy or visited that place and walked away feeling more empty than when you began?

We don't need failure or tragedy to feel the foxholes. Most often lack of peace results simply from the absence of God in our lives. Becky says of coming to know God, "Since then I've had many struggles and changes in my life, but everything I do takes on a new perspective knowing that I have a loving, eternal God on my side. I believe that there is nothing that God and I can't handle together -- and as for the completeness that I had searched so hard for, I had finally found it.

With God involved in our lives, we can rest easy. As we get to know God and listen to what he says in the Bible, he brings about that peace of mind in our lives, because we know him. We see life from his vantage point, aware of his faithfulness and ability to take care of us. So no matter what the future holds, we can place our hope in God as our constant. He's waiting to prove himself in our lives if we will turn to him and seek him. Are you building upon something in your life? Believe it or not, every person is building upon something.

Each of us has a foundation, something we're putting our hope and faith in. Maybe it's ourselves -- "I know I can make my life a success if I try hard enough. God has a different viewpoint. He says it is shaky ground to put our hope and faith in ourselves, in other people, or in anything this world offers.

Instead, he wants us to trust in him. He says, "Everyone who hears these words of mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.

It's wise to have God involved in our lives for those times when the catastrophes come. But God's intent is for us to have a more abundant life no matter what the circumstances are. He wants to have a positive influence on every area of our lives. When we rely upon him and his words, we are building upon the Rock. Some people feel secure being the child of a multi-millionaire, or knowing they can easily pull good grades. There is an even greater security in having a relationship with God. God is powerful.

Christian Songs About God's Love

Unlike us, God knows what will happen tomorrow, next week, next year, the next decade. He says, "I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning.

More importantly, he knows what will occur in your life and will be there for you when it happens, if you've chosen to include him in your life. He tells us that he can be "our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. He says, "you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. That doesn't mean that those who know God will not go through difficult times. They will. If our nation encounters terrorist attacks, environmental or economic disasters, those who know God will be included in the suffering.

But there is a peace and a strength that God's presence gives. One follower of Jesus Christ put it this way: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. However, if we go through them in relationship with God, we can react to them with a different perspective and with a strength that is not our own.

No problem has the capacity to be insurmountable to God. He is bigger than all the problems that can hit us, and we are not left alone to deal with them. God cares. God's great power, which can be shown in our lives, is accompanied by his deep love. The future might be a time of world peace as never seen before, or maybe there will be more ethnic hatred and violence, more divorce, etc. In either case, no one will love us as much as God can love us. No one will care for us as highly as God can care for us. His Word tells us, "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. Jesus Christ told his followers these comforting words: "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. It is an ongoing mindset and lifestyle of those who desire to know, love, and follow God. Another way to think about seeking God is the concept of attracting the presence of God.

These are two different ways of saying the same thing. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. In one sense, God is everywhere. He is omnipresent, but we see in the Scriptures that He also inhabits certain people or groups of people in special ways at discrete times. This is what we are to seek after — the very presence of God in our lives and communities. We want the presence of God to be on earth as it is in heaven. The following are seven principles that describe what it means to seek after God.

They are activities on our part that attract His supernatural presence.

2. God Loves Me and Gave His Son For Me

God is sovereign over all who become Christians, but a person must repent of his sins and believe the good news to become a Christian. God ordains the ends, but He also ordains the means. The following are the means that attract His supernatural presence in outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Understanding and practicing the following seven principles will make you a seeker after God. It is what you were designed for and is what the Lord expects of you. The very essence of following Christ is to imitate Him in His humility. Though He was God Himself, He set aside his power and glory to become part of the creation.

Jesus exemplified a humble life, which every Christian is to emulate. Moreover, pride is the opposite of humility, and we know from the Scriptures that God judges and actively opposes the proud James , 1 Peter Not just non-Christians, but proud Christians can expect the opposition of the God of heaven and earth. The admonitions to be humble in Philippians, James and 1 Peter are all written to a Christian audience, not non-Christians. God has made plain that He loves to support and dwell with the humble in heart.

Fasting is not the only tool to help humble ourselves: there is also confession of sins, meditating on the life and example of Christ, and other ways to develop humility. However, fasting is an important tool and one that has been neglected in the Western church. It is important not to take fasting too far in thinking that it is the sin qua non of the Christian life. The Pharisees in the New Testament showed that a person can be a regular faster and still be self-righteous, proud and greedy. It is indeed important, and should be practiced regularly. It was always assumed that fasting would be part of the Christian life after Jesus died and rose from the dead.

There was no need to fast when Christ was present, because there was no need to mourn over the absence of God, but once He ascended, the era of fasting returned to the people of God. We know from early church documents like the Didache that it was the practice of Christians in the first century to fast every Wednesday and Friday until 3pm. They would have a meal in the evening, which would be all the food they took in for the day. There would be special times of extended fasting just as there were before Christ came, but regular fasting is also important.

The list goes on and on. Sometimes people fasted for a day and sometimes for as long as 70 days Mordecai and all the Jews in the Persian Empire or days Nehemiah, chapter 1. Different circumstances require different lengths of fasting. For the Christian seeking to humble himself before God, fasting must be a regular part of his or her life. The typical prayer life of the first-century Christian and the average Christian in Asia or Africa is markedly different from that of the Christian in America and Europe.

Going Deeper - #1 A new spiritual reality

Of course, there are exceptions, but by and large, there is little to no dedication to regular prayer among Christians in the West. Epaphras Colossians , 13 shows us that without consistent, dedicated prayer you can count on significantly less happening in the lives of your loved ones and in the world at large.

The Scriptures admonish us to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Bradshaw, the pattern for first-century pious Jews and Christians was to pray two or three set times per day, in addition to praying continuously throughout the day.

Many Christians lift up prayers during the day as they go about their business, which is a good thing and is modeled in the Scriptures e. The pattern is to pray two or three set times per day like Daniel Daniel Repeatedly, we are told to pray night and day in the Scriptures. Luke 18 shows that we are to pray night and day. We see in 1 Timothy 5 that widows who did not pray day and night were considered lovers of pleasure and were not to be given financial help.

Hebrews show that the twice daily burnt offerings at the temple were a type of the twice or more daily prayer offerings that Christians are to have before the Lord. Combined with Bible reading, the Christian should be praying two or three set times every day totaling a couple of hours. Similar to the discipline of prayer two or three times a day is the discipline of taking in the Word of God.


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